Strange But True: The Best of 2008

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Strange But True: The Best of 2008
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As a baseball fan, I love seeing odd events happen during games. Who could forget the night Melky Cabrera hit a ground rule double when the ball hit the pitching rubber and flew into the stands? Or when Orlando Hernandez threw his entire glove to first base?

The oddities of the game are one of its primary attractions.  Even though thousands of games are played each year, there always seems to be a “Wow, I’ve never seen that before” moment in almost every game.

So I present to you some “strange but true” oddities that occurred during the 2008 season. I found these from an article Jayson Stark wrote a few months ago. Here are some of the better one’s:

- The only Padre to steal a base in the entire month of July was that world-famous base bandit, Greg Maddux.

— CC Sabathia tied for the lead in shutouts in BOTH, the American and National, leagues in the same season.

— Matt Holliday reached base six times in one game Apr. 17; however, didn’t score nor drive in a run.

—  In Game Two of the World Series, the Rays became the first team since the 1923 Giants to score two runs on RBI groundouts in a single World Series inning. In Game 3, the Rays became the first team to pull off that very same feat in, oh, about 48 hours.

— Finally, when the Phillies win the World Series, they really do it with mirrors. Just check the calendar—and the closers:

Won in:

‘80 and ‘08

Last out collected by a reliever wearing No.:

45 (Tug McGraw) and 54 (Brad Lidge)

 

—The Rangers had a winning record in July; however, their ERA for the month was a picturesque 6.63.

—In a Sept. 5th game, the A’s got one hit in the eighth inning and scored eight runs. Along the way, there were six walks, four bases-loaded walks, a hit batter, and the only grand slam in the major-league lifetime of Rakin’ Rajai Davis (who had entered the game that inning, as a Pinch Batter).

Before that inning, naturally, the A’s hadn’t scored more than five runs in a whole game in 40 consecutive games. And no team had scored eight runs or more in an inning while getting just one or less hits since the 1959 White Sox.

—The Nationals had losing streaks of 12 and nine games in their first 39 games after the All-Star break. The Yankees haven’t had a losing streak as long as either of those two since Sept. 21, 1982, which was more than 4,000 games ago.

Of all the Strange-But-True moments, this one takes the cake:

This year, Bengie Molina hit a home run, but didn't score a run.

So how’d he become the first man in major-league history to pull that off? It took a rare, Molina-esque combination of muscle, lead-foot-itude, and modern technology. But it happened, all right. Here’s how:

On Sept. 26, Molina lofted a fly ball that looked as if it hit the top of the right-field wall at AT&T Park. So Molina stopped at first. Emmanuel Burriss trotted out to pinch-run for him. And nothing seemed amiss, until Omar Vizquel told Giants manager Bruce Bochy he thought he’d heard the ball clank off the metal roof just above the wall.

So Bochy asked the umpires to use replay. And whaddayaknow, the call was reversed and Molina had himself a two-run homer. But the umps WOULDN’T let Molina come back to finish his trot because they ruled Burriss was already in the game and couldn’t exit.

So Burriss finished circling the bases. And Molina wound up with a box-score line that went 3-0-1-2—on a night he hit a home run.

Want to know how impossible that is? Our buddy, Andy Baggarly, of the San Jose Mercury News, checked in to tell us that when official scorer Michael Duca tried to enter this sequence into his computer, the computer program wouldn’t let him do it, because even computers know a guy can’t hit a home run without scoring a run. Right?

So check the box score over at baseball-reference.com. It still doesn’t believe this happened. But it did. In actual life. And all us Strange But True Feats of the Year fans will be eternally grateful that it did.

Good stuff. I’ll try and update the strange-but-true moments as they happen throughout the 2009 season.

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